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06.11.2006 Feature Article

Rape defined

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'Mama Rose, good morning…'
'goodmoriiing-ooh hmm'
'I heard you had to rush to the hospital in the middle of the night, I just returned from my night duty and my husband told me… '
'You will not believe this my sister… hmm that useless man Atta Kofi has defiled my maid and the silly girl didn't say it until she woke us in the night with her crying!'
'Yesu! But when did this happen? Abiba was alright yesterday '
'It happened in the afternoon when I left…my husband is taking a police report now…'

'Why do people rape anyway? I mean if there are people ready to have sex why not go for those instead of an unwilling partner?' Mariam said that was what her ten-year old sister asked her.
She replied 'in South Africa, people rape babies because they believe it will heal them of HIV/AIDS.'
The poor little girl looked frightened. I chastised Mariam for giving the girl such a reply but I agreed that she had to know.

'Why on earth do I have to believe you anyway? You stab me in the back and now you telling me this?' Ama was fuming with anger and pacing ed the length and breadth of the room.
'He did it please believe me, your boyfriend raped me!'
'Oh really, what the hell were you doing in his room any ways?'
'Oh poor girl, it's good she reported the incident' I said
'But why did she have to wait this long to report it…' that was Mike, my course-mate and boy! he can be irritating sometimes and you will agree with me after you read what he said next.
'I don't think there is anything like rape?'
'What? Oh no, don't tell me you are about to make another one of your impossible arguments…'
'Think about it, a woman wants to be raped because she wants to. You cannot force anything into a hole… let's say men give and women accept so if you don't want it you just squeeze your **** shut…' at this point my jaw dropped in utter shock and I was too stupefied to react!

If you have been on board the 'Esenam Writes' vehicle, you would have noticed that I do not take a particular stance on any issue but merely present you with the bleakness of a particular subject. I have thought of writing on rape for a while but for the sensitive nature of the topic, I had to be extra prepared for its analysis.

I have talked to at least three rape victims and interviewed five people who narrated rape incidents that their friends have gone through. So don't get too confused about my introduction; I have looked at about ten rape cases on one-to-one interview directly and indirectly with victims and this is aside from my secondary sources (DOVVSU files).

So often, we have defined rape to be either sexual assault of a child or an adult and even these days we say rape of men but we will come to that at the right time.
DOVVSU, formally WAJU, a division of the Ghana Police Service has made these distinctions clear:

Defilement is having sex with any child under 16 years with or without her Consent.
Rape is sexual activity with a female of 16 years and above without her
consent.
Incest is having sex with a close relation (father, mother, sister,
grandson/daughter)
Unnatural carnal knowledge is having sex with a person in an unnatural manner or an animal
Indecent assault is forcible sexual bodily contact e.g. holding/touching breast, buttocks, private part etc of someone without his/her consent.
Many definitions of rape/sexual assault have been offered by a variety of sources--some credible, some questionable.
North Carolina State laws 'generally define rape as vaginal, anal, or oral penetration involving force or threat of force.'

Nicholas Groth in Men Who Rape defines rape as "some form of sexual intercourse against the will of the victim or by threat of bodily injury".

Other literary sources define rape as "any form of forced sexual contact".

Perhaps the most accurate definition of rape is found in the dictionary. Webster's dictionary also defines rape as the crime of forcing another person to submit to sexual intercourse, however, the dictionary also describes rape as "the act of seizing or carrying off: abduction, violation".
The difference between DOVVSU and 'RAPE CRISIS'- a North Carolina Agency's definition is that, the former specifically mentions the female as the victim in all cases and the latter leaves room for the victim being either male or female which is also true for Webster's definition. You will also notice that DOVVSU, for purposes of legal actions against perpetrators, rape has used age of victim to differentiate defilement from rape.

Nevertheless, rape is simply sex without the consent of the other partner and as such whether a man decides forcibly have sex with his wife or a man penetrates a prostitute sexually without her approval, or a guy sleeps with his girlfriend against her will, they are all qualified to be rape actions.
In the above dialogues, I gave you four instances of the different types of circumstances of rape. In the first one, I took it out of a police report and converted it into a dialogue form and as you may guess it is a case of defilement. Not too long ago, a tragic incident rocked the country in a situation where an old man allegedly raped his grandchild, destroying her vaginal organs.

She had to go through an operation which of course the family couldn't have paid for without the help of the public. This girl's life will never be the same again.
Of course it's true that in South Africa, it is believed that raping babies can heal you of your HIV/AIDS status; if you think I'm pulling your legs, go check it out.
The third scenario of course is also a true life story of a girl who was raped by her friend's boyfriend. Her friend asked a good question and I know you asked the same question: 'what was she doing in his room?' The point is that the accused guy confessed to the crime and so our question doesn't really matter, she was simply raped.

Let me confess my little secret: until the accused confessed to the crime, I thought it possible that the girl was lying… you can't blame me for this because there are instances where women accuse men falsely of rape, right?

As for the last scenario, there are people who don't believe that rape occurs and Kwame was one such person and for all I know you may be one of them.
KNOW WHAT MOTIVATES A RAPIST:
Now this gets more interesting here, do you know that we have about seven kinds of rape and you ought to know because it will help you understand a victim better, understand the subject better and you will know how to deal with it or help a victim. There is anger rape, power rape, familiar/acquaintance rape, marital rape, elderly rape, gang rape, stranger rape, sadistic rape and even male rape etc.
Anger rape is often not premeditated, the rapist acts in a spontaneous way with the sole intention of releasing pent up rage, frustration or anger through sex and this assault is characterized by physical brutality.
'Far more actual force is used in the commission of the offense than would be necessary if the intent were simply to overpower the victim and achieve sexual penetration (Groth and Birnbaum, p. 12).'
The victim is almost always beaten, usually severely: The rapist often approaches his victim by striking or beating her, tears her clothing, and uses profane and abusive language in the process. This kind of rape can also be found in marital rape and especially in marriages where a man abuses his wife.
Power Rape is what I call end product of inferiority complex. When a man does not feel he is capable of himself and that he needs to prove that he is control of his life, he may resort to rape. He may “seek power and control over his victim through intimidation by means of a weapon, physical force, or threat of bodily harm.”
The victim may be tied up, held down by physical force, or otherwise rendered helpless. This kind of thing is a result of the heavy role society places on the growing boy child. For instance a boy has to learn not to cry, he must always be a man no matter what.
Such unspoken norms do not erase the fact that men have emotions, men fail, men face uncertainties and the fact a man cries, does not mean his manhood is lost.
Most often, unfortunate men who do not have the strength to cope or handle the 'supposed failures' resort to power rape.
Sadistic Rape: according to psychologists, violence becomes an erotic stimulant for the sadistic rapist. He takes intense pleasure in the victim's torment and suffering. The offender is usually intensely excited; sexual excitement is directly connected to the pain which he is inflicting upon his victim.
Can we say that most of the armed robbery related rape cases are associated with this kind? What do you think? Do you remember the story of a lady I told you about who was robbed and raped in a taxi? Did I tell you that she was severely beaten as well? What complicates the issue is the fact that, after she was raped in the car, they dragged her outside and assaulted her whiles another woman who was part of the gang, pinned her down. After that they urinated on her and left.
Gang rape is one of the most gruesome crimes against humanity. You should have seen the look on my face when I was talking to a victim of gang rape. It was a phone interview and even that I felt the pain in her voice…I will give you a gist of that story. Here was a girl who accepted a lift from a man… 'But why on earth would you accept a lift at that time of the night?' I asked
'it was just around 9pm and I wasn't getting a cab, besides it had started drizzling and I was grateful when they offered the opportunity…there were two other guys in the car and they were very friendly so I relaxed until the one closest to me touched my breast…the next thing I knew he was touching me in other places…'
'What did you do?' I asked
'I told him to stop but the one driving said they all wanted to have sex with me in the car. I protested even tried opening the door but the driver had used a central lock…they said that its either they did it rough or allow them to treat me gently. By now I was struggling with the man closest to me. My blouse was torn to shreds…I told them that I will allow them to do whatever want but they should please put on condoms first and they did…'

She said they took turns raping her. The motivation for the gang rapist is to assert his "manhood" and power, and to gain acceptance by the group of his peers involved. Ever watched “I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE?”? A typical movie that depicts gang rape!

In next week's edition, I will talk about acquaintance/familiar rape and I will give the opportunity to read the real life accounts from two victims. So for now, we are done with RAPE DEFINED.

Esenam Dumenu
Esenam Dumenu, © 2006

The author has 18 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: EsenamDumenu

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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